The Nosebleed on Mid-Spring ’13

My mid-season review for this surprisingly strong season. Has a lot of nosebleeds and is very long (17 pixivs).

Each work will be rated via the number of nosebleeding Totoris:

  • No Totoris = Dropped/not watching anymore
  • One Totori = Watching it for the sake of completion. Really shitty.
  • Two Totoris = Watchable and enjoyable. Has flaws but it’s fun.
  • Three Totoris = Must-watch.

Aiura
Episodes seen: 5/12

Aiura is short. So let’s cut to the chase: it’s suteki.

The animation is superb and the backgrounds more lush than anyone can imagine. Shadows and textures look so real you think you’re watching a film. And unlike most school life iyashikeis, this one doesn’t even have a plot. Each episode feels like a 4-koma strip. And it doesn’t end with a punchline or anything. It’s gorgeous and that’s the only thing that matters in Aiura. I liken it to the film shorts in modern art galleries except this is about cute girls doing cute things.

And for what it is: it’s perfect and doesn’t need anything else.

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Photo Kano
Episodes seen: 2/12

Wow, I don’t know why I was hyped for this work.

Well, the director is a pretty cool guy. His name’s Akitoshi Yokohama; the guy’s associated with Yuasa (Kaiba, Tatami Galaxy). So I expected some sakuga and fluffy romance ala Amagami SS. It shouldn’t be too shabby and it might be a sleeper hit.

Instead, it’s a bad case of voyeurism.

I’m always cringing at every second in this show. Its premise is unbelievable: Please help a perverted photography club take pictures of the cute girls who talk to you daily. I’m seeing a visual depiction of hell. I can just copy any hateful ANN post on ‘Moe’ and it will be seen as a reasonable argument against the existence of Photo Kano. There should be a crime for the illegal possession of Photo Kano.mkvs.

I mean, this is wrong. Really wrong. I’m a pervert and this is too much for me. Ethically, I will not want to take pictures of my little sister or childhood friends. The girls are willing to have their scandalous pictures taken. I can’t believe people like this work and not be disturbed by the actions. It’s offensive to females and it’s basically objectification and sexism. Whatever your thoughts are on feminism, you have to agree this is demeaning to the gender. I can’t believe this is sold and adapted without objections.

So I sincerely hope this is one of those deals where the director needs to make a shitty anime before getting full rein on his next. His talent should not feed into this sexist culture.

No Totoris.

Aku no Hana
Episodes seen: 2/13

With a pretentious source that resembles a trollfic, Aku no Hana is designed and crafted to be a Frankenstein’s monster. Its visuals are abhorring, disturbing anyone with a good affection for animation.

Don’t get me wrong: Rotoscoping is a beautiful way of animation. Think of Wolf’s Children and how lovely those visuals are. But Aku no Hana is plain lazy: A lack of shading on the faces makes me wonder if the characters are flatter than pancakes; in the distance, facial features pop up; and creepy smiles with teeth gleaming invade my comfort.

Yes, this show is meant to be uncomfortable.

But it’s uncomfortable because it looks like trash. You can’t honestly see a work that positively when the work visually looks unpolished. Nobody likes to read first drafts, let alone watch one on TV. It is an offense to people who wanted an animated version of the manga, not whatever this is.

No Totoris.

Sparrow’s Hotel
Episodes seen: 5/?

I’m born on October 16, 1993. Therefore, I cannot appreciate the aesthetic of a work made around the time I was born. A 1995 adaptation of a 2008 manga, Sparrow’s Hotel is one of those works that stand the test of time. Like an antique, it must be seen through a cultural anthropologist perspective. We must challenge ourselves whether we can watch an antique — a different anime from the pervasive Moe anime breed. We are peeking into the deepest abyss of 90s anime, the time when Anime was good. Only plebeians like me cannot appreciate the annals of history.

But I hope the many of you who believe 90s anime is the time when good anime exist do.

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Railgun S
Episodes seen: 5/26

Like a drawn out Powerpoint presentation by a college professor, Railgun S is tiring to watch. At times, it will have solid school life scenes; most of the time though, it’s to draw out exposition: The investigation scene in the third episode is about a few pages long; JC Staff thinks it is sane to make a silly arc and draw it out to a 24 minute episode. Nothing happens here. And if Mikoto turns her head around at the end of the episode and sees her clone, the whole fourth episode will be unnecessary. It’s a painfully long reveal for something we all know it’s gonna happen.

Suppose we take out the third episode and replace it with the fourth episode: it will be better. In that episode, Mikoto’s playfulness with kindergarteners is entertaining material. Not much to complain here. This was season one’s strength: great episodes featuring cute-girls-doing-cute-things between kaboomplosiontastic episodes. If this season remembers how to replicate its first season’s first half’s success, it won’t be too terrible.

For now, the Sisters arc looks interesting. A reiteration of a popular event in the first Index season through the eyes of Mikoto can be interesting. It helps that Accel, Mikoto, and her clones are fun characters overall.

I don’t know if I am ready for Mikoto to get wet for Touma though; that might be disturbing to watch.

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Devil Survivor 2: The Animation
Episodes seen: 6/13

I’ve played the game. It sucked. Actually, all the recent Atlus games that isn’t Etrian Odyssey franchise nor Shin Megami Tensei IV suck. The Devil Survivor franchise is a SRPG where you grind your awful characters at boring maps. You don’t do jack shit except that. The premise for the first video game was: Tokyo is in quarantine and you can see the number of days before someone dies. You walk around Tokyo talking to girls with giant boobs and grind at Ueno Park. Your demon summoner tool is a DS; it’s really silly. The difficulty stems from how overpowered the bosses are so you just have to grind and grind. Its barebones plot and shitty gameplay are exhausting and I quit the game before finishing it.

Its sequel was another wasted investment. I liked more stuff here but it wasn’t intriguing enough that I can finish it. This time, it’s the whole of Japan. At least, you can see something else that isn’t Tokyo getting ruined. We get Osaka, Nagoya, and a couple more cities in the brink of destruction. But the same flaws apply: the plot is non-existent; you grind like a motherfucker; and it’s fucking boring.

So I was surprised when this work got an adaptation. Okay, how can you construct a plot that’s interesting? For one, you have to rewrite the entire plot because the plot in DeSu2 is too ‘video gamey.’ The original plot only works because it’s a video game and no one cares about plot in that medium; in anime, it works differently — people do care. A bit.

Leave it to the master, Seiji Kishi. He is a horrible director whose only strength is adapting comedic works. His previous video game adaptation, Persona 4: The ANIMATION, is what happens when you try to be too faithful and not care about making sense. Seiji also likes to break the video game physics, pissing off many fans. It’s kinda like retconning if we go meta.

Seiji returns as the director and this time, it’s faithless. In the first episode, the main character summons a level 58 demon; starting from episode two, the show strays from its roots and it goes bonkers everywhere. I wish I can admire that bravery on being liberal, but the work makes no sense. I’ll ignore its faithless roots; yet, it doesn’t make sense.

Who are these random people that pop up in episode 5? Woah, TMI on Joe’s background; that sounds really private! Why is Hibiki, characterized as a heroic character, rampaging around the city? Why is Airi (best character btw) sneaking around the city? What the hell’s going on?

It doesn’t make sense either that the demons don’t look anything similar to the game. And the fact everything is darkened by the shadows. I want someone to shine a flashlight onto them so badly; there is no detail on these characters. Are their appearances so offensive that the studio hide them out of shame? I don’t know what I’m watching anymore except it’s definitely not the Devil Survivor 2 fans wanted.

Unentertaining, it fails to impress anyone. I’m on the verge of dropping it. This makes me sad :(((((

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Oreimo.
Episodes watched: 5/12

A full stop/period symbolizing the end of an awfully fun franchise, Oreimo. signals the white flag and gracefully gives up its light novel adaptation throne to Sword Art Online. The sequel knows it’s fanservice; it embraces it. The second season will adapt everything up till the final novel. It’s a rollercoaster ride to the finish and I wonder if the terrible pacing came from this rush.

Which is a pity because it could make a good trainwreck/love triangle story. Judging from the spoilers I read, Oreimo. can break the hearts of many and plunge fans into despair/elation. That’s a good thing because the work relies on that. But fans of the first season like me do not like this direction and how it’s being handled. It’s one thing to have a completely different direction; it’s another if the tracks can topple down from a simple nudge. Instead of the silly, enjoyable pseudo-commentary on otakus, Oreimo becomes a confused soap opera. Tension in the love triangle between Kirino’s butt and Kuroneko’s pettanko chest is non-existent until the show remembers it at episode 5. And before we get to that, we are treated to a cringe-inducing scene where Kirino asks Kyousuke to pretend to be her boyfriend. It makes anyone but Kirino fans groan. The scene is written to be funny but I am wondering if I’m watching something illegal. Its pacing is no better: Episode 3 is totally random, focusing on Bajeena Saori. And while that’s a cool move, it is unexpected and jarring.

I also expected better directing and animation due to the popularity of the franchise. But ahaha, I am so naive and hopeful~. The stale backgrounds and jerky animation return; Oreimo‘s character designs are not altered. Nothing changed visually. The great thing is: If this is tacked onto the first season, I will not be surprised if a fan mistake it as part of it. Considering how much money its predecessor made, I want to see improvements.

But nope, it’s a literal rehash of everything bad with Oreimo and nothing good from it.

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Henneko
Episodes watched: 4/12

I like perverts, but I don’t like perverts dumber than me. That’s like reading a worse news website than Crunchyroll‘s. But alas, Yokodera Youto infuriates me. In which universe does a pervert want to express his or her perversion? Unless the character in question is nuts, it’d be best to hide it. Hiding is the fun part; expressing it makes you look dumb and asks the world to scorn you. This is what Youto does. He was an ideal Pervert; his actions are misinterpreted as contributions to society. Think about it: your horny actions are seen as filled with honor and dignity. Girls/bishies will flock to you because you’re so cool.

Why would you give that up?

It confuses me Youto wants to give that privilege up. Maybe he’s sick of being a closeted pervert or something. Nevertheless, the show (and the manga, for that matter) has not given a good reason. The desire to express your perverted actions is silly at most.

But to hide your expressions is a good motivation. Tsukiko wishes she can express less. That makes sense. It’s the opposite of expressing too much and she’s the driving force of the work.

And so, via the power of Mahou Storytelling, Youto can’t shut up about his perversion and Tsukiko is expressionless. It’s a fun show if you don’t question everything that’s wrong. Its sexual jokes are amusing and the plot merely bonkers. Ogura’s Tsukiko is a cute character and her deadpan humor is top-notch. Ishihara’s Azusa is a good tsundere character and she’s totes mcgotes cute. Both seiyuus add to that cuteness people love in Henneko. While I dislike the premise, their voices are adorbs. I’m surprised by Ogura’s acting because she tends to be a bit melodramatic; she also can now sing and Henneko‘s ED is the best thing the show can offer.

The problem is: It’s a Kantoku work. I expected it to be — well — pretty. Its character designs are bland as fuck. I’m not saying to make it to look as nice as Kantoku’s; that’d be godly. I’m just saying, “Wow, you can’t be serious. This is Kantoku. At least, put in some effort!” The director likes to put this nauseous filter that makes the show look like it’s made on drugs. Everything about the production stinks. Product placement of Korean products are amusing; backgrounds are the usual JC Staff-fare (bland, colors, speed lines).

For its many flaws, Henneko is a hard show to recommend so far. I doubt it’d be better in the long run. It’s best to check out its first three episodes before picking it up or dropping it. Or you could read the manga and get the ED instead. And while that isn’t isn’t drawn by Kantoku, it sure looks like it.

Unlike this anime.

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Muromi-san
Episodes seen: 5/12

If you don’t like Muromi-san, I am afraid that you are a robot pretending to be a human. And that you need help straightaway. I don’t see how anyone can not like this show.

I mean, it acknowledges itself as one of those “weird animays.” Plus, Muromi-san turns the dial of “animayness” to the extreme. With waves of absurd animation and non-sequitur comedy, it’s an unpredictable work of art. There’s nothing funner than seeing Yukarin acting fucking nuts. The script was probably written on a trip to Cannabilumbus and an excuse for the animators and the seiyuus to go crazy.

It’s experimental and crazy. Smoke Muromi-san erryday (till Teekyuu S2 airs).

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Suisei no Gargantia
Episodes seen: 5/12

I recently got onto the train for Gargantia a week ago. For a while, I had my misgivings with the work’s staff; it had a certain butcher. I’m disgusted by grimdark and serious works for now. Forcing myself to watch a depressing work (whether it’s good or not) is almost impossible. So I had to be convinced by friends that this is in fact a terribly cute show about a mecha pilot learning how to swim.

Its first episode features hilarious CGI robots swirling around the space. Not much to be said except this is written by Urobuchi. And so far, that’s his only episode. That’s a good thing because he can’t write anime scripts; his talents are more suited for visual novels. Anime has more dialog than porn novels. Urobuchi hasn’t gotten the gist of that and his writing falters from that flaw.

But once you kick Urobuchi from the driver’s seat, the show reveals it is not an Urobuchi work; it is a Murata work. The second episode opens up to a marvelous setting filled with a luscious mix of vibrant colors. Beautiful reds and greens paint the sunset skies.

As Ledo, the cold-blooded mecha pilot, observes the world under this sky through his systematic approach, he finds himself in a state of confusion; nothing is rigid and the organization structure does not conform to the form and framework he often sees. For him, it’s disturbing to see the lack of uniformity. The alien concept of families and carefree lives — instead of dogged, militaristic thinking — are the norm. In his mind, a question circulates: How does a social construct like society exist when the military method is more efficient?

This is what Ledo thinks. And adolescents and teenagers sick of society will feel the same way too. What can society give to us? When you think about it, society has not been beneficial in our eyes. Gargantia is nudging us that there are other things than the apparent flaws in society. It’s the little things that matter, it whispers into our ears. Gargantia’s ambition is to make us believe in the good forces of society. You can’t take a step back and not admire its idealism. It’s not obnoxious; it’s just honestly optimistic. Life is enjoyable when you have small, memorable events. I enjoy the part in the fifth episode where Ledo learns how to swim. My brain melts from the cuteness, smoke coming out from my ears. And it makes me happy Ledo is learning what being a human is.

Does Gargantia has its flaws nonetheless? Of course, it’s not like the slim possibility of Urobuchi returning for another episode vanished. And that it might be a bit too slow all of a sudden. But I think it is meant to be an iyashikei, not an actual mecha series. It’s a daring fusion of two completely different genres.

Without a doubt, Gargantia is worth a watch for its positive message: despair and disaffection from society can be fixed with the warmth of love and endearment. I will not be surprised if history professors looks at it and see it as a classic anime.

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Valvrave the Liberator S1
Episodes seen: 5/12

I don’t think most people get what this show is about: a nonsensical, over-the-top mecha show. Returning to the hilarious roots of the Code Geass franchise, Valvrave the Liberator is like a parody of itself and Japanese comedies. Its premise consists of vampire body-switching (Jojo x Yamada and the Seven Witches), love triangles (Macross), and student revolutions (JIBUN WO). Each episode feeds on its previous silliness and becomes stronger. It makes Aquarion EVOL look sane.

So if you were expecting a serious mecha show, ahaha_oh_wow.jpg.

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Dokidoki Precure
Episodes seen: 14/49

Lesbians Precures fighting boomboxes plus karuta cards who end their fights with a wink.

10/10.

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Shingeki no Kyojin
Episodes seen: 5/25

Without a doubt, I’m one of the more well-known Muv-Luv Alternative fans. I’m really gay for it. So Shingeki no Kyojin, a work that was inspired from the kamige, is something I am looking forward to. The manga so far is entertaining. It has flaws but I can imagine myself watching it till next season. The problem is: Studio WIT is a horrible studio. A few weeks ago, they were nuts enough to ask for animators on Twitter; the fifth episode’s non-action scenes look like utter crap. There are also CGI rock scenes. Mind you, this is only the 5th episode and to be skimping on animation is a bad, bad idea.

Once the show finishes this arc, I will talk about this show at more detail. For example, my husbando.

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Yuyushiki
Episodes seen: 5/12

I almost skipped out on this show because it looked stale and the premise sucked. However, Yuyushiki is not just a pleasant surprise; it’s artistic. There is a lot of attention to the layouts and cinematography. Sure, I can talk about its wacky comedy. However, Yuyushiki really excels on how well-crafted it was. The third episode showed great walking cycle animations; it isn’t realistic but it looks cartoonish — appropriate for the cute characters. Its fifth episode blows my mind with its different approaches on depth of field. You can take in detail the perspective of where the ‘camera’ is placed. At times, it looks like an anime painting. I am honestly amazed by the love and care put towards this show.

EXIT Tunes should also be praised for the wonderful musical composition. Each soundtrack piece complements the scene without being obnoxious about it. The problem with most soundtracks is that they stick out too much. And for really good soundtracks, they don’t and sometimes we forget it. Yuyushiki is in that comfortable middle. “I know this track but I don’t know where” is clearly a good trait for people who listen to soundtracks regularly.

I wouldn’t be surprised if people compare it to (X ‘_____________’ ). But I don’t know if Yuyushiki is comparable to Hidamari Sketch yet. With HidaSketch, we get the usual SHAFT presentation with a mix of patterns and still frames. Yuyushiki actually has movement. Nevertheless, I don’t think any HidaSketch fan, especially ones in love with its cute atmosphere and presentation, will hate Yuyushiki.

Because how could you hate absurdly well-animated 2D lesbians?

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Hataraku Maou-sama
Episodes seen: 6/13

Contemporary comedies are horrible, especially if they transcend the borders of language and culture. Hataraku Maou-sama embraces that fact and should have failed. Its premise is generic at best: fantasy heroes trying to live in Tokyo. And while I love light novels, the ones that tend to get adapted are trash. Anyone who has read a typical light novel knows what a drag the writing style usually is. Sometimes, we get lucky and get good works adapted. But I doubt anyone expected Maou-sama to be this great.

You see, the anime adaptation has one thing that separates itself from other generic light novel adaptations. They are called “characters.”

And the choices the characters can take are hilarious and realistic: Sanada Maou could just be like Laharl from Disgaea, rampaging Tokyo and going all chuuni on us. Instead, the writer opted him to be an Outstanding MgRonald’s Employee of the Month. His loyal general, Ashiya, takes care of the house — actually, he is more like a housewife. Poor Emi, a typical Saber-like character, works at the customer service. Chi-chan, who resembles a cuter version of Poplar from WORKING!, can just be the best girl by just being cute. But her crush with Maou is adorable and I don’t find her annoying, something that often happens with her type.

But we also don’t have just comedy to deal with: there’s actually world-building. Not the simple Tokyo setting with a backdrop of the salaryman culture — I’m talking about the fantasy world setting steeped with Middle/Dark Ages Catholic Christianity influences we rarely see. For one, we have two languages used in the show. It’s great to hear a silly, fantasy-like language used. I admit it sometimes feels out-of-place and awkward but it’s still fun. And even though we stay at Tokyo most of the time, we still get a feel from how complex the political culture the fantasy world has. We get hints from each characters what the fantasy world looks like.

In contrast, Maoyuu suffers from info-dumping us exposition. Walls of text explaining each setting is a bad idea for a visual medium. It’s tedious and I don’t know how this is a good anime adaptation. It’s not entertaining nor interesting.

So Maou-sama‘s subtle usage of exposition doing the same thing and more is such a feat. Maybe we’ll see the setting in full again like the 4th episode at the final episode. I’m excited to see what little is there to talk about actually. I will probably orgasm if there isn’t even talk about it because the audience is already expected to know the setting.

Because it’s refreshing to see a fantasy setting without a wall of text.

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Overall: A Great Season for Little Girls

I mean, seriously, wow. With 29 Totoris out of the possible 49 Totoris (59% Totoris), Spring ’13 has a lot of contenders for best anime this season. And I don’t think my standards are lacking; I still hate anime. Just that this season has some really good works and I’m loving it so far.

Sure, we have a bunch of disappointments. Nobody thought Aku no Hana would be that bad nor Devil Survivor 2 being nonsensical. However, it’s a solid season with strong works and the variety of genres is astounding.

I love this season. And I hope this summer is just as good.

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2 thoughts on “The Nosebleed on Mid-Spring ’13

  1. ‘Lesbians Precures fighting boomboxes plus karuta cards who end their fights with a wink.’

    you wrote all this article only to talk about precure, haven’t you

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